Easy Spinach and Ricotta Pie – Gluten Free

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“I’m strong to the finish when I eats me spinach!” ~ Popeye the Sailor Man

Who doesn’t love an easy meal? My misbehaving eye was banished to the naughty corner yesterday so I was cooking with my pirate patch on. Even one-eyed I still managed to whip this up with little effort, proving that ANYONE can cook a nourishing meal for themselves with a little determination.

Spinach and ricotta is a tried and tested combination, and this versatile dish will feed a family, or give singles or couples a good meal and some tasty leftovers.

Leafy greens like spinach are chock-full of nutrients and fibre. I used baby spinach for this recipe, but I have also substituted silverbeet,  beetroot tops, and chard very successfully. The sweet potato really adds to the flavour too and keeps the pie low GI for sustained energy. This recipe is high in protein, and is equally yummy served hot or cold.

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Ingredients:

500g of fresh spinach to give about 2 cups of wilted spinach (you could also use frozen spinach – just defrost and drain before use); 500g of ricotta cheese ( 2 cups), 2 tablespoons of pinenuts, 4 eggs, 4 rashers of bacon – chopped into small pieces, 1 large onion – diced, 2 cloves of garlic – crushed or chopped finely, 1 tablespoon of butter or fat of your choice, 2 cups of golden sweet potato – chopped into small pieces, 1/2 cup of crumbled or grated cheese of your choice – tasty, parmesan, fetta etc, pepper and nutmeg.

Method:

Preheat your oven to moderate (160 degree celcius if fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit).

Use half the butter to grease a large baking dish. Choose based on how much mixture you make – if you add in extra vegetables you’ll need a bigger dish.You could also line with baking paper if you prefer.

Place a large frypan or saucepan on medium heat and dry-fry your pinenuts until golden. Set aside in a large bowl.

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Now add the raw spinach to your pan and pour in about a tablespoon of water. If it won’t all fit, cook it in batches. Cook over medium heat until wilted. Tip into a colander to drain out any juices.

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Return pan to heat with remaining butter and fry off your bacon, onion and garlic until coloured and fragrant. Cool slightly.

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Tip onion mixture, spinach and sweet potato into the large bowl with the pinenuts. Mix thoroughly. Add cheese and stir again.

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Beat eggs and ricotta until combined and then fold through the spinach mixture. Season with cracked pepper. Pour into prepared baking dish and smooth with the back of a spoon. Grate a little fresh nutmeg over the top.

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Place into the hot oven and bake for 45 minutes or until firm and golden.

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May be eaten hot or cold. Delicious with a salad or seasonal vegetables. It also makes a great lunchbox item or easy breakfast. Will keep in fridge for about five days. Can be frozen too.

If you’re time poor, double the recipe and bake two pies. Eat one now and cool one and then cover well and freeze. Or dollop into greased, non-stick muffin tins and bake individual pies.

Variations:

  • For vegetarians: Omit the bacon.
  • For vegans: Omit bacon, eggs and cheeses. Use 2 cups of cooked white beans, pureed with a little extra garlic and olive oil.
  • For dairy free:  Omit cheeses. Use olive oil instead of butter. 2 cups of cooked white beans, pureed with a little extra garlic and olive oil instead of the ricotta.
  • Try ham, smoked chicken or salmon instead of the bacon.
  • Substitute pumpkin or potato for the sweet potato.
  • Add a few cups of other seasonal vegetables such as zucchini, corn, cauliflower or broccoli to make the meal go a little further or for a different taste.
  • Slice some fresh tomatoes over the top before baking.

Tasty Asian Flavours Quinoa – Virtual Vegan Potluck 2013

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“Eating superfoods won’t turn you into a superhero, but it might help you look better in Lycra.” ~ Nicole Cody

Quinoa (pronounced keen- wah) is touted as one of the latest ‘superfoods’ and apparently all the cool and beautiful people have recently discovered it. As you well know, I’m not in the ‘cool and beautiful’ department but I have been eating quinoa for years, and it rocks!

It looks like a grain but quinoa’s actually a seed; gluten free, low in fat, high in complete protein, and chock full of iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium and zinc.

My previous efforts for the Potluck have included Vegan Broccoli, Cashew and Lime Soup and Creamy Satay Hotpot.

Today’s quinoa recipe can be served warm as a side, or cold, as a salad. It’s a terrific dish for all your vegan and vegetarian friends, as well as a tasty addition to your average carnivore’s plate. It also doesn’t take much cooking skill, so it can be prepared by the least confident of cooks! 🙂

Ingredients:

I cup of quinoa, 2 cups of water or vegetable stock, 1/2 large or 1 small red salad onion finely diced, 1/2 to 1 cup of broken walnut halves, 2 oranges peeled with seeds and membranes removed and chopped into small pieces, 2 scallions/green onions/shallots chopped, 1 small bunch of coriander/cilantro chopped, butter lettuce or similar to serve.

Quinoa white and ready to be cooked

Cooking the Quinoa:

Place quinoa and water or stock into a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until all the liquid has been absorbed and quinoa is fluffy and delicious.  Feel free to eat a spoonful or two as a taste test.

While the quinoa is cooking, cut up your herbs, onion and oranges, roughly chop or break your walnut halves and drink some water.  Water is good for you.  If it’s cold drink warm water. There, doesn’t that feel better?

Dressing:

1 teaspoon of maple syrup, 1 tablespoon wheat-free tamari or soy sauce, 1/3 cup of fresh orange juice, 1 tablespoon of sesame oil, 1/2 to 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger root (use this to taste!), 1 to 2 cloves of freshly crushed garlic, 1/2 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice powder (optional but good).

Whisk all ingredients together until well blended, or place into a lidded jar and shake vigorously to combine.

To assemble:

If you want to eat this as a warm side, immediately toss all the other ingredients and the dressing through the quinoa and spoon onto your washed and drained lettuce leaves.

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For a cold side, let the quinoa cool and then add all other ingredients.

It looks very decorative served up in a pretty bowl lined with lettuce, or it can be plated up individually.  This dish makes for great left-overs too!

quinoa with asian flavours

To enjoy the rest of the Virtual Vegan Potluck recipes, click on the navigation buttons below.

Clicking go back takes you to Canned Time – a vegan delight, where Angela has created the most delectable Pear and Broccoli Sprout Salad with Balsamic Caramelized Sweet Potato Cubes.

Clicking go forward will land you at an unrefined vegan – hosted by the honestly amazing, undauntable, and most lovely Annie. Her blog is a thoughtful and beautifully assembled exploration of her journey into veganism, and that bumpy road we call life. Hugs and love to you, gorgeous Annie! Her offering today is Sweet Potato Fries with parsley, garlic and lemon zest.

Annie is the original inspiration behind these Virtual Vegan Potlucks, and I’m so glad that I stumbled upon her blog about the time when I first started my own. Thanks too to Somer and Jason for all their efforts with making this Potluck happen.

Thanks for visiting, and enjoy the rest of the Potluck! xx

                      

And if you’d like to start from the beginning of this fabulous Potluck click here.

Slow-Cooked Spaghetti Bolognese Recipe

Spaghetti bolognese – a firm favourite in our house.  Sorry about the steam obscuring this pic – did I mention it’s cold here?

It’s been a cold, wet week at my farm. One of my favourite easy dinners in this sort of weather is home-cooked spaghetti bolognese. When we come in from the paddocks at the end of the day, all muddy and cold, there’s nothing better than a hot shower to warm back up, and then a bowl of spag bol in front of the fire, with a glass of red wine. It’s a great meal for feeding a crowd, or a cohort of hungry workers!

My grandmother taught me this recipe, and taught me that the secret is the slow cooking. I usually make the sauce during the day and simmer it for at least a couple of hours – the longer the better as it gives the bolognese sauce a divine, silky richness.

Ingredients:

500g lean beef mince, 1 onion, 3 cloves of garlic, one stick of celery, 1/2 capsicum (bell pepper), 2 bay leaves, olive oil, 1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs (oregano, basil, thyme, sage, rosemary and basil) *note – if you can’t get this blend use oregano, 1 cup of mushrooms, 2  x 400g tins of diced tomatoes, 1 empty tomato tin of water, 1 heaped teaspoon stock powder, 1/2 teaspoon sugar, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to taste, 3 tablespoons tomato paste, 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, 1 cup of red wine.

500g of dried spaghetti, and some parmesan cheese to serve. This will give four hearty serves, or six moderate serves.

♥ The meat I’m using is our own organic beef, and the onion, garlic, celery, capsicum and parsley have all come from the vegetable garden.  I’m also using some home-grown zucchini and field mushrooms from a neighbour instead of pasta for my own dinner!  There is something very satisfying about eating food that has been sourced locally, or grown by us.

Method:

Finely chop the onion, garlic, capsicum (bell pepper), celery, mushrooms and parsley. Put a large heavy-bottomed saucepan on to low heat.  Add a slug of olive oil and cook the garlic, onions, celery and capsicum until fragrant but not coloured.  Add in the meat, turn the heat to medium and brown off the mince, breaking up any lumps with a wooden spoon.  Season well with the herbs, salt and pepper.

Add in the tinned tomatoes, tomato paste, stock powder, sugar, mushrooms, bay leaves, vinegar, water and wine. Stir well to combine.  Bring to boil and then reduce to a simmer, and slow cook the sauce, stirring occasionally for two to three hours or until the sauce has reduced and thickened.  Keep an eye on it, and if it looks like it is drying out, add a little more water or another slurp of wine!

To serve, cook your pasta until al dente.  Drain and place a generous portion of meat on top of each plate or bowl of pasta.  Grate or shave a little fresh parmesan cheese over the sauce.  This meal goes well with a crisp green salad and some crusty bread.  You may also like to drink the remainder of the red wine.

Fresh crusty sourdough baguette – perfect with dinner! (And the cook maybe ate one or two pieces with butter and vegemite as a pre-dinner snack…)

My lazy salad is a bag of greens from the Byron Bay Farmers Markets with a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar

Low carb/gluten free option: Grill a large field mushroom per person.  A few slices of zucchini (courgette) are also good.

Grilled vegetables are a great low carb, gluten-free alternative to pasta

Top with the Bolognese sauce, and some cheese, if desired.

I often cook a double batch of the bolognese sauce, as it freezes really well.  The mince is  delicious on toast for breakfast (or lunch), and is also good for stuffed baked potatoes.  I sometimes substitute the mince for the beans in this easy recipe, so that it becomes Easy Italian Bake.  Enjoy!